From the Island of MSFT Toys

We feel obligated to post on the Microsoft Zune, especially after ripping on the 2G iPod nano's slow transfer speeds. Here's our round-up of what we've learned about it since its announcement last Friday:
  • Unlike some other projects, e.g. the Xbox, which were designed in-house, Microsoft bought an off-the-shelf Toshiba design for their player. (link)
  • The main feature that differentiates the Zune from the iPod is built-in Wi-Fi. The Wi-Fi does not allow you to download songs wirelessly, but does allow Zune-to-Zune sharing. This allows you share any song with another Zune user for three days and three playbacks. With the Zune expected to become 2-3 percent of the installed base of portable music players, it remains to be seen if this will prove useful outside of the Microsoft Campus. (link)
  • The Zune's Wi-Fi sharing wraps songs in special DRM software to restrict playback. Every song you share--regardless of where you got it from--is wrapped and carries the three-play-three-day limit. This behavior has been compared to that of computer viruses. (link) It's also in violation of the Creative Commons license. (link)
  • Curiously, content using Microsoft's own PlaysForSure DRM technology for Windows Media Audio, as used by Napster 2, Real Rhapsody, and Yahoo Music, is not supported at all. The Zune will only play DRM songs from Microsoft's forthcoming Zune Marketplace. Perhaps not coincidentally, Real has since announced that it will stop using PlaysForSure and Windows Media Audio. (link)
  • The Zune is expected to ship in time for the holiday buying season. Microsoft was expected to announce its pricing on Friday but did not and still hasn't. They may have been surprised by the price-drop of Apple's 30 GB iPod. (link)
  • Emboldened and enriched by the $100 million settlement with Apple over the "Zen Patent" (we discussed this earlier at Vintage AtAT,) Creative Labs is expected to set their lawyers' sights on the Zune next. Meanwhile, Apple can kick back and keep selling millions more iPods. (link)
  • J Allard, Microsoft VP and the leader of the team at Microsoft that developed the Zune (we assume he doesn't work for Toshiba,) said in an interview that he expects customers to rip their DVDs and use the Zune to watch them. (link)
  • Finally, Shaw Wu, every Mac nerd's favorite analyst, ripped the Zune for being 'bulky' and 'underwhelming.' He also said that the Zune's real-world battery life may be only 3-6 hours due to the electrical demands of the Wi-Fi radio. Oops. (link)
So it looks like Microsoft has created an unprecedented opportunity to be sued, not once, not twice, but three friggin' times! Let's recap:

1. The Zune's Wi-Fi DRM is in violation of the Creative Commons license,
2. The Zune's interface is in violation of Creative Labs' Zen Patent, and
3. Microsoft has directed its Zune buyers to use DVD-ripping software, potentially in violation of the ever-loved Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Three times, and this doesn't include the usual stuff over dead batteries or scratching cases. Sounds like it's time to buy us some stock! Woop woop!


Post a Comment

<< Home